DUBLIN (AP) – Militant Protestant supporters of a Scottish soccer team beat to death a Roman Catholic man in the latest sign of how sports rivalries inspire sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland, police and politicians said Monday.
Witnesses said more than 20 Protestant supporters of Glasgow Rangers, many of them wearing the team’s blue-and-white jerseys and scarves, drove into a Catholic district of the town of Coleraine after Rangers clinched the Scottish Premier League championship Sunday.
Billy Leonard, a former policeman and politician from the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, said several carloads of anti-Catholic extremists came armed with clubs “and literally attacked the first person they came across.”
Kevin McDaid, 49, was fatally bludgeoned while his wife, Evelyn, and a 46-year-old Catholic neighbor, Damien Fleming, were both injured. Fleming was reported in critical condition.
Police said they arrested six men on suspicion of involvement in the attack.
A Presbyterian minister in the town, the Rev. Alan Johnston, said Rangers supporters were drinking heavily while watching Sunday’s Rangers victory at pubs in central Coleraine and then drove across a bridge to the Catholic area, Somerset Drive.
A Catholic politician in the town, John Dallat, accused an outlawed Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association, of responsibility.